A Thursday suite
Ever wonder what the different sections of the orchestra think of each other? Here's a lighthearted look inside the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which is no doubt typical of other orchestras. Hmmm...brass players as drunken bullies and right-wingers? As a former low brass man myself, I resemble...er, resent those remarks! Which probably came from a diva violinist or neurotic oboist, anyway.
And please, don't get me started on what instrumentalists think of singers....
One violinist who does little to dispel the instrument's diva image is the subject of an entertaining profile in Australia's online arts mag Limelight. Richard Tognetti, who's also director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, gets especially tetchy when the subject of transcriptions comes up. A transcription, by the way, is when music composed for one set of performing forces, large or small, is re-written for another. Think, for instance, of Leopold Stokowski's transcription in Walt Disney's Fantasia of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor from Bach's organ original to Stokowski's version for large symphony orchestra. While transcriptions have been common practice for centuries, they've taken on something of a bad odor in the last century, as faithfulness to the original text has become the standard by which performances are judged. I know of radio program directors who've banished transcriptions from their stations. Well, Tognetti (who uses the virtually synonymous term "arrangement") has a different idea, as you can read in the profile, and also hear in his transcriptions of two works by Edvard Grieg in the first hour Thursday of WFCR's classical music.
I came along too late to hear Regina Resnik at her operatic peak. But in 1987, her stage career "in limbo" in her own words, she was invited by producer Harold Prince to take the "Lotte Lenya role" of Fräulein Schneider in the musical Cabaret, in a production also featuring Joel Grey as the MC and the late Werner Klemperer as Herr Schultz. The Wife and I caught it in previews in San Francisco, and it remains a peak experience in a lifetime of music theater. One of the reigning mezzos of the Metropolitan Opera, known for appearances in the operas of Verdi, Wagner, the Strausses (Richard and Johann) and Tchaikovsky, the creator of roles in operas by Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti, a stage director, a distinguished teacher — Ms. Resnik celebrates her 90th birthday today. We'll hear her as Delilah during the noon hour Thursday, and later in the role she's pictured as above on the left. Which role is that? The cigarette should be a dead giveaway.